by John Peterson
Home sweet home. The Austin Bruins (33-17-1) improved their league-best home record with a 5-3 win Saturday at Riverside Arena to complete a weekend sweep over the Minot Minotauros (20-29-3). It was the Bruins’ 23rd victory at home in 26 games this season.
Austin jumped out to an early 1-0 lead for the second night in a row, after Josh Bretner (N. Potomac, MD) set up Brian Bachnak (Riverview, MI) for a breakaway with a head-man pass, and Bachnak beat Minotauros goalie Merrick Madsen (Acton, CA) on the stick side. The Bruins made it 2-0 when Jake Arroyo’s (Bolingbrook, IL) shot was blocked and the puck ricocheted over to Casey Jerry (Hudson, WI), who put away the goal on the backdoor. The Bruins held a slim shot advantage 7-6 at the end of the first period, with a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard.
The Minotauros picked up their first goal of the weekend on the power-play early in the second period, when Luke Voltin (Blaine, MN) snuck a shot under the left arm of Bruins goaltender Nick Lehr (Roseville, MN) from the right circle. Just over five minutes later, Michael Louria (Wexford, PA) tied the game for Minot from the left side, as he fired a wrist shot into the top shelf. Late in the period, the Bruins re-gained the lead when Bretner kept the puck in the attacking zone at the line, before rifling a shot off the post and in behind Madsen.
Louria scored his second goal of the game to tie it 3-3 at 2:09 of the third period, but the Bruins answered on the power-play when Guillaume Leclerc (Franois, France) put away a rebound in the front of the net to make it 4-3. Niko Hildenbrand (Vacaville, CA) fired a shot past Madsen shortly after Leclerc’s goal for Austin’s fifth tally, as the Bruins cruised to victory. Lehr stopped 12 shots in his 29th win of the season, while Madsen turned away 22 shots in the loss.
The Bruins hit the road Wednesday this week for Richfield, where the team will play a midweek tilt with the Minnesota Magicians at 7:05pm. After the game, the Bruins’ bus will travel west for a weekend series with Minot. Friday and Saturday’s games against the Minotauros will start at 7:35pm. All three games can be seen online at fasthockey.com, with Saturday’s broadcast also airing on 1480AM KAUS in Austin.